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How The Net Destroyed Democracy: Lawrence Lessig (Transcript)

Full text of political activist Lawrence Lessig’s talk: How The Net Destroyed Democracy at TEDxBerlinSalon conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Lawrence Lessig – Attorney, and political activist

So, I’ve spent most of my career as an apologist for the Internet, and the last 10 years of my career as a critic of governments, in particular, of the United States government.

And in the background of that apology and the background of that criticism, there has been a glorious group called ‘The people’ — never criticized by me, never questioned — never questioned that at the core of democracy, there was a well-functioning idea called ‘we – the People, if only we could speak.’

So today, I don’t want to apologize for the net anymore; I want to criticize it. And I don’t want to talk about the corruption of government, I want to ignore it. And I don’t want to praise ‘We- the people,’ I want to show you just how pathetic we have become, or at least how pathetic we are understood, because unless we find a way to recover a reason for democracy, there is no fight for democracy to be had.

So, I want to start with two things; we could call them thing one and thing two. Thing one, I want you to think about common knowledge; knowledge held by all of us. And thing two, I want you to think about common will.

So, common knowledge, things known generally within a people; everyone knows there was a wall in Berlin; everyone knows this is our President; everyone knows that most Americans don’t like that President. These are common knowledge, among Americans at least.

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